Terry Funk: Still Crazy After All These Years
By Sabu with Kenny Casanova
See the video of Terry Funk accepting his IPWHF Class of 2021 ring below.
Here is an excerpt from the book of Sabu telling a story about his hero Terry Funk, as told in Sabu: Scars, Silence & Superglue. I believe this passage totally explains why Terry Funk is worthy of a Hall of Fame induction…
One of my most remembered matches in ECW was a barbwire match with Terry Funk at ECW’s Born to be Wired, on August 9, 1997. This match even promised fans that it was going to be “too extreme for ECW.” Because WWF was dabbling in some hardcore type matches now, Paul wanted to bring a little of the FMW craziness to America to really put his promotion over the top.
Now, back in 1993, I held the ECW World Title for a short time after beating Shane Douglas. Four years later, Terry Funk was now on the opposite side of the ring putting that same strap up for grabs in this barbed wire match for the title. Terry Funk was great. He was always up for anything. Being a wrestler who was in his prime some twenty years before some of the guys on our roster, he didn’t always understand the names of the all of the new moves, or much less how to do/take them. However, all you would have to do is talk slow and be really descriptive, and The Funker would be in.
ECW fans were a rare breed. You couldn’t fool them worth a sh-t. Trying to really give the hardcore wrestling fans a taste of Japan, we both knew we were not going to be able to fake it. So for the actual barbed wire, people ask me all the time if it was gimmicked up. The answer is no! We didn’t want to risk our credibility. The ECW crew didn’t clip the sharp barbs off the barbed wire. We also didn’t use special Hollywood rubber barbed wire, which is often used as a prop for movies. That sh-t was real.
Something else that was real, too: a real crazy-ass 53-year-old man wanting to whoop my ass on the other side of the ring. In front of the bloodthirsty crowd at the ECW Arena in South Philadelphia, I had Terry kick my ass as hard as he could. He started by giving me a generous piledriver that somehow didn’t kill me, then whipped me into the disturbing lack of ropes to be the first to feel the barbed wire. Then, he picked me up and dropped me nuts-first on top rope of barbed wire. After that, Terry hit the barbed wire for the first time. This went back and forth until I locked Funk up by tangling his shirt in the wire for destroying a perfectly good pair of MC Hammer pants.
Terry Funk took anything I threw at him! After a few steel chair shots and my “Air Sabu,” which is a running jump onto a chair then a springboard into my opponent in the corner. At this point, we were already a bloody mess. When I tried it again, I overshot the jump by just a tiny bit and a section of wire filleted my arm like a catfish.
Joey Styles was legit grossed out. He told me later on that his stomach dropped as he yelled, “Oh my God! Sabu’s bicep just got ripped open! Disgusting!”
It may have looked bad to some, and that’s because it was.
“Fonzie!” I yelled at my manager.
His eyes looked at mine, then down at my arm. Then his eyes bugged out of his head.
“Go get me some tape!”
He snapped to. The former WWF referee disappeared down the aisle. I looked down at my arm. There was a big skin flap where my bicep was supposed to be that looked like a shark gill. Huge, thick corn syrup-like snots were dripping off my elbow to the mat. The referee leaned over to see if I was okay.
“Do we stop it?”
Stopping the bleeding would be great, but stopping the match was out of the question.
Rare Funk U T-shirt on display at the IPWHF museum.
I can’t describe it. If you are a real professional wrestler, you continue no matter what. You don’t think about what kind of long-term repercussions something has. The show comes first. You fuel yourself with the last bit of adrenaline you have left, and you power through it.
My forearm tingled. It felt hot and cold around the wound at the same time and was heavy as hell. The canvas quickly looked like a butcher’s shop floor.
Thank God for Fonzie. He knew the deal. He went right to the back and returned with some fresh tape as fast as he could. Frantically wrapping duct tape around my severed arm, I was helped up off of the mat by the kind Southern gentlemen, only to be dumped onto steel chair courtesy of a Funkin’ neck-breaker. Relentless, to say the f--king least. While I was still wrapping my arm, Funk was doing moves on me. As I hit the mat, I was still wrapping the tape around myself.
We then started whipping the dogsh-t out of each other with strands of the barbed wire which incidentally felt like fish hooks under your skin. I had about enough and started thinking about taking it home. I wrapped Terry Funk in a sh-t ton of barbed wire, put him on a wooden table at ringside as we had planned, and then hit him with a running leg drop from the ring apron through the table. I threw Terry’s dead ass back in the ring for the pin.
Then, the crazy motherf--ker decides to rib me and kicks out.
“What the f--k?!” I said laughing. “Okay, you asshole.” I dragged Funk back outside the ring and put him back on another wooden table to do it again. He looked up at me and laughed as I was cursing under my breath. Then, I ran to the other side of the ring and looked for a strand of wire I could use to wrap around my leg. There was only a massive tangled net on the floor of what had once been hanging on that side for ropes.
“F--k it,” I said.
I pulled the whole thing back up to the mat. I bent it around my ass and what was left of my sweet Hammer pants. The results looked like a hula skirt of barbed wire, which was good enough for me. I hit The Funker with a barbed wire leg drop through a table again, who was still covered in his own barbed wire cocoon from the first time.
Then, it was all barbed wire bondage. We were totally tangled in the menacing metal mesh and could barely move. I threw Terry back in the ring and he kicked out again like the asshole that he was. But then, the gnarly netting got so bad, we were stuck together like Siamese twins and there was no separating us.
Imagine that - bondage with Terry Funk. Other than a rat, who would have thunk it?
I pinned him again and that was it.
Finally, I won my first ever world heavyweight championship – The ECW Heavyweight Title.
The loops of barbed wire were so imprisoning that we couldn’t go on if we wanted to. The ref couldn’t raise my hand if he wanted to either, because we're pinned to the mat inside a big ball barb and couldn’t even stand up. My pants were ripped entirely open at this point, and lifting up stuck in a loop far above my head. It looked like I wasn’t wearing any pants and lifting up a blanket of torn cloth to give the front row a show, but I couldn’t help it.
Mick Foley installs Terry Funk's plaque on the Wall of Fame. See full video here.
Fonzie came in the ring with wire clippers and started to go to work. The sharp barbs ripped at his shirt too until it was gone. After that, it finally ended with even more ring attendants having to literally pull Terry Funk and Me apart with scissors, metal cutters, the jaws of life and whatever other damned things they could find to desperately try to get us untangled from the metal mess.
I looked over at Terry.
He was laughing.
Terry Funk continued to go after retiring a hundred times. If someone asked him to wrestle again, he couldn’t say no. It was in his blood. And when he did wrestle again, he kept right up with the craziness of whatever was going on, if not added to it himself. This is one of many reasons why Terry Funk should undoubtedly be inducted into the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
If you enjoyed this article, checkout the rest of the Class of 2021 inductee pages and order your copy of the limited-edition commemorative magazine by visiting the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Shop or by clicking here.